The development of distributed ledger technology (DLT) – the most frequently discussed form of which is blockchain – looks set to take another step forward in the coming months, following a significant announcement from Banco Santander.
During the first quarter of 2018, the Spanish bank will introduce same-day mobile international payments for personal customers via DLT provided by Ripple, the real-time gross settlement system.
Announcing its plans in a 2017 earnings presentation, Santander revealed that the new service will be launched simultaneously in four countries.
During the past 18 months, the bank has trialed the technology with members of staff. This pilot has included tests with Apple Pay for payments of up to £10,000, using the tech firm’s Touch ID technology for secure customer sign-in.
Santander told analysts: “We expect to be one of the first global banks to roll out distributed ledger technology-based payments for individuals.”
Towards the end of last year, the bank’s UK arm said it was collaborating with American Express to use Ripple for blockchain-based international payments between businesses.
There are many indications that DLT and related technologies will prove increasingly significant over the course of 2018, with the European Commission recently launching the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum.
The EU institution noted that blockchain has gained recognition as a “major breakthrough”, partly because it enables “high levels of traceability and security in economic transactions online”.
By establishing the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, the EU hopes to highlight key developments in this field, promote European activity and encourage engagement with key stakeholders.
Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president responsible for financial stability and financial services, said: “Among the many technologies that are driving digital innovation, blockchain has the potential to be truly transformative for financial services and markets. The Blockchain Observatory and Forum will monitor developments and also inform our policymaking.”